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Preview: San Marino vs. England

Sports Mole previews the Euro 2016 qualifier between Group E leaders England and bottom side San Marino.

England will be looking to maintain their 100% record in the Euro 2016 qualifiers when they travel to San Marino for their seventh match of the campaign.

By contrast, the hosts are still looking for their first win, having picked up just a point from their six outings so far.


San Marino

Manuel Battistini of San Marino evades Danny Welbeck of England during the EURO 2016 Group E Qualifying match between England and San Marino at Wembley Stadium on October 9, 2014© Getty Images

San Marino come into this match ranked 193rd in the world, making them the second-lowest ranked nation in Europe. Their chances of qualifying for next year's tournament are all but over, with the minnows needing maximum points from their last four fixtures of the qualifying campaign in order to stand a chance of finishing in the top two.

In their last outing in June, San Marino were beaten 2-0 by Estonia, who are the only side that they have taken a point off in this campaign, sharing a goalless draw in the reverse fixture last November.

Pierangelo Manzaroli's entire squad play for clubs in San Marino, including 39-year-old Andy Selva, who with eight goals and 70 international appearances is the country's record scorer and most-capped player.

San Marino are yet to find the back of the net during this qualifying campaign, something which Selva and fellow La Fiorita striker Danilo Rinaldi will surely be hoping to change in the next four matches.

Defending has been a problem for the team so far, letting in 19 goals in their first six matches. Only Gibraltar, who are taking part in their first qualifying campaign since being recognised by UEFA, have let in more goals.

Recent form: LLDLLL


England

Wayne Rooney leads the troops during an England training session on September 2, 2015© Getty Images

Roy Hodgson's side know that victory in this match could be enough for them to seal a spot in next summer's tournament in France, depending on results elsewhere in the group.

If the Three Lions clinch the win, and Slovenia don't beat Switzerland at the weekend, England will be guaranteed a finish in the top two places in Group E.

England have been in fine form in their qualifying campaign so far, picking up maximum points from their first six outings, although they needed a late winner from Wayne Rooney last time out to beat Slovenia 3-2.

The captain has a chance to become the nation's record goalscorer in this match, coming into the game just one behind Sir Bobby Charlton's record tally of 49.

This match comes just three days ahead of a tie with Switzerland, who sit second in the group. Hodgson will be hoping that his side can beat his old team, which would all but guarantee England progress to the tournament as group winners.

England have been in strong form in front of goal in qualification, scoring 18 times so far. Only Group D leaders Poland have scored more.

Recent form: WWWWWW


Team News

Jonjo Shelvey in action during an England training session on September 2, 2015© Getty Images

Hodgson has named some inexperienced players in his side, including uncapped goalkeeper Tom Heaton, plus Jonjo Shelvey, Ryan Mason, Jamie Vardy and Jack Butland, who all have just one cap to their names.

The manager has confirmed that he has a fully-fit squad following Tuesday's training session at the National Football Centre in Burton, despite Butland carrying a finger injury.

With England in action again just three days after this match, Hodgson may look to give playing time to some of his younger players, although he has a youthful squad in general, with Michael Carrick and Phil Jagielka the only over-30s in the side.

The home team, who have also not reported any injuries, have a couple of uncapped players in their side, with goalkeeper Giacomo Muraccini and defender Marco Berardi both named in the squad.

San Marino possible starting lineup:
Simoncini, Della Valle, F Vitaioli, Valentini, Bonini, M Vitaioli, Verretti, Tosi, Golinucci, Selva, Rinaldi

England possible starting lineup:
Hart, Cahill, Shaw, Jagielka, Clyne, Oxlade-Chamberlain, Barkley, Milner, Shelvey, Rooney, Kane


Head To Head

When the sides met at Wembley in the reverse fixture in October, England cruised to a comfortable 5-0 win, with Phil Jagielka, Wayne Rooney and Andros Townsend among the goalscorers.

That was the fifth meeting between the two sides, and the fifth time that England have come away with the win.

England have never scored fewer than five goals against San Marino, and have conceded just once in the five meetings, with Davide Gualtieri scoring just eight seconds after kickoff in a 7-1 England win in 1993.


Sports Mole Logo

We say: San Marino 0-5 England

San Marino have been an improving side in recent years, conceding fewer goals than in some of their previous qualifying campaigns, but they are still very much the minnows of Group E. Hodgson will be more interested in securing the three points than running up the score, and will probably try to give playing time to some of the fringe members of the squad, but England should still have enough to claim an easy win.



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Jonjo Shelvey of Swansea scoring their first goal from the penalty spot during the Barclays Premier League match between Swansea City and Everton at Liberty Stadium on April 11, 2015
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